Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Rv Lv 8II

Judith Jesch (ed.) 2009, ‘Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali Kolsson, Lausavísur 8’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 585.

Rǫgnvaldr jarl Kali KolssonLausavísur

Brast, þás bæði lesti
— bauð hrǫnn skaða mǫnnum —
— sút fekk veðr it váta
vífum — Hjǫlp ok Fífu.
Sék, at sjá mun þykkja
snarlyndra fǫr jarla
— sveit gat vás at vísu
vinna — hǫfð at minnum.

Brast, þás lesti bæði Hjǫlp ok Fífu; hrǫnn bauð mǫnnum skaða; it váta veðr fekk vífum sút. Sék, at sjá fǫr snarlyndra jarla mun þykkja hǫfð at minnum; sveit gat vinna vás at vísu.

There was a loud noise when both Hjǫlp and Fífa were damaged; the wave caused men harm; the wet weather gave women sorrow. I see that that voyage of bold-hearted jarls will be kept in memory; the crew got drenching work for sure.

Mss: Flat(139rb-va), R702ˣ(43v) (Orkn)

Readings: [1] bæði: boði R702ˣ    [2] hrǫnn: ‘raunn’ R702ˣ    [4] vífum: so R702ˣ, vinum Flat

Editions: Skj AI, 506-7, Skj BI, 480, Skald I, 235-6; Flat 1860-8, II, 474, Orkn 1887, 150, Orkn 1913-16, 218, ÍF 34, 196-7 (ch. 85), Bibire 1988, 229.

Context: Ch. 85 of Orkn describes in some detail the shipwreck suffered by Rǫgnvaldr and his fellow jarl Haraldr Maddaðarson in two ships given to Rǫgnvaldr by King Ingi Haraldsson of Norway. It transpires that they were wrecked in Shetland; once all the crew have been billetted on different farms, Rǫgnvaldr speaks this st. in response to people’s questions about his journey.

Notes: [All]: The shipwreck took place in the autumn of 1148. The saga goes on to mention a place called Gullberuvík, now Gulberwick in Shetland, and detailed interdisciplinary study suggests that it did indeed take place in that bay (Morrison 1973, 78-110; Collings, Farrell and Morrison 1975-6) though no trace of it could be found. — [1] lesti ‘were damaged’: The verb is used impersonally with Hjǫlp and Fífa (l. 4) as the object. — [4] vífum ‘women’: As Bibire 1988 points out, this word can refer both to the grammatically f. ships, and to women in general who experience sorrow when their menfolk are lost at sea. The saga does not refer to any loss of life on this occasion and so the former is more likely in this context. — [4] Hjǫlp ok Fífu ‘Hjǫlp and Fífa’: In the Viking Age, ship-names were almost always m., while f. names first start to appear in the C12th. Hjǫlp ‘Help’ presumably had a religious connotation, as did other ship-names of this period (Falk 1912, 32); Fífa means ‘Arrow’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  3. Falk, Hjalmar. 1912. Altnordisches Seewesen. Wörter und Sachen 4. Heidelberg: Winter.
  4. Flat 1860-8 = Gudbrand Vigfusson [Guðbrandur Vigfússon] and C. R. Unger, eds. 1860-8. Flateyjarbók. En samling af norske konge-sagaer med indskudte mindre fortællinger om begivenheder i og udenfor Norge samt annaler. 3 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Malling.
  5. ÍF 34 = Orkneyinga saga. Ed. Finnbogi Guðmundsson. 1965.
  6. Orkn 1913-16 = Sigurður Nordal, ed. 1913-16. Orkneyinga saga. SUGNL 40. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Bibire, Paul. 1988. ‘The Poetry of Earl Rǫgnvaldr’s Court’. In Crawford 1988, 208-40.
  8. Morrison, Ian. 1973. The North Sea Earls: The Shetland/Viking Archaeological Expedition. London: Gentry Books.
  9. Orkn 1887 = Gudbrand Vigfusson 1887-94, I.
  10. Internal references
  11. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Orkneyinga saga (Orkn)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].
  12. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)

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